Just Do It

If you are here reading this, you are probably interested in starting your own business online. That encompasses a lot of things, including writing and publishing books. Yes, publishing your own book is a business.

The best piece of advice I could give you is do it. Just do it. Don’t let gremlins like procrastination, perfectionism, and other sneaky, self-defeating habits get in your way.

If you are afraid you missed the boat, don’t worry. The online world is still very young and there is no reason we can’t all be part of it. That doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. It’s all part of the learning experience so dive right in and get started.

The first step is to have a business plan. As you work through it, you will find yourself more informed and better able to enter the Internet marketplace with success. If you find areas that don’t quite fit, it’s a good indication that you may need to make some adjustments.

Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart.

Once your book is ready for the bookstore, virtual or otherwise, the work is just beginning. First, let’s get a huge caveat out of the way. No one can guarantee your book will sell. If any business claims they can—run. There will be something in the fine print somewhere and you will be out a lot of money. The biggest and best publishing houses in the world make no such guarantees.

You can upload to Amazon and wait for the buyers to find your book and make it an instant bestseller, but be prepared for the soothing sound of crickets instead. Your book is one in millions so this is not the best strategy for sales. Social media is important, but that also has its limitations unless you are a known author.

Think outside the box.

Go where the readers are gathering. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked.

Goodreads, now owned by Amazon, is where people comment on books and share what they’re reading. Register as an author and upload your book cover along with a good synopsis. Then get active on the site. Read and leave well-considered reviews for other books. Friends and family often want to help by leaving 5-star ratings and reviews that should be reserved for literary works of genius and this can hurt you. You may be a genius but a list of nothing but praise looks fake. Real ratings from strangers who have read your book will be honest so be prepared. No matter how good your book is, someone will not like it.

Wattpad is geared for new talent and voracious readers. Before you upload to a digital bookstore, consider publishing your book in installments. You will get good feedback from readers and often some suggestions to make your book better. Why let people read it for free? They will get to know you and look forward to the next part of your story. Many books that started here go on to have great success in sales later. Not only that, but Hollywood is watching. If your work attracts a lot of enthusiastic readers, you may end up with a TV series or movie. Don’t forget to be active on the site! It’s a community.

There are no traditional rules anymore. The digital world is people-driven, not product driven. Forget everything you thought you knew about marketing and think about readers. This is all about them.

If your work is genre specific, think about submitting stories to online publications that specialize in your genre. Read the publications first to make sure you are targeting the right one.

Definitely, have an author website. Even if you hear crickets again, at least you have a presence online. Add a press kit page. It looks professional and may come in handy if someone wants to do an article about your work.

Have a social media presence, but don’t use it to sell your book. People don’t want to be hit over the head with post after post about buying your book. Be human and approachable. Talk about the writing process, post funny stories, post a photo of your dog. In other words, be yourself. Are you excited to be publishing a book? You should be. It’s a huge accomplishment and you have every right to be proud. Let your friends and followers be part of it.

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